FAYETTEVILLE — Fresh off a top-25 win to open the season, Arkansas football has already turned the page to its next game.
Things don’t get much easier for the Razorbacks, as they begin SEC play Saturday with a home game against Spencer Rattler and South Carolina. The Gamecocks are also 1-0 after beating Georgia State 35-14.
To preview the Arkansas vs South Carolina matchup, Sam Pittman met with the media for about 35 minutes Monday afternoon. The third-year coach touched on several topics, including injury updates, analysis of the Cincinnati win and more. Here are some updates from the press conference…
- On players who stood out after watching film: I thought Landon Jackson and Terry Hampton and Jordan Domineck all played well. We’ve got something there. We have a little more depth. I was pleased with our wide receivers. Our O-line has to play better. Need to be more consistent with our reads and different things on offense. We have to play better in the secondary. None of it wasn’t us not playing hard. We just didn’t cover them sometimes and didn’t block them sometimes.
- Injury updates on Jalen Catalon, Myles Slusher and Isaiah Nichols: We’re not ready to figure out exactly Catalon’s situation. We haven’t. Slusher is in the same boat there. I think Nichols will be fine.
- On Shane Beamer and South Carolina’s special teams success: I think it comes from his father, where you can win games on special teams. They kicked an onside kick, they squibbed a kickoff, they faked a field goal, they blocked two for touchdowns. They got 21 points from special teams, basically. He has a passion for special teams.
- On Arkansas’ defensive line: I thought Terry Hampton played really well. That would be the first guy right off the bat who I thought played a really good game. Landon Jackson played hard. I think he’s just going to get better. Stewart did fine. Consistently, I thought the transfer guys played really well. Zach Williams played a little faster than what he did a year ago.
- On the multiple sets of South Carolina’s offense: Their No. 1 set was empty Saturday. If you had Spencer Rattler, you probably want to do that. When he gets out of the pocket and is on the run, he’s as accurate as anybody. Any time you go empty, you feel good about your tight ends and wide receivers. They used a lot of options and toss plays. They did compliment inside and outside runs.
- On a couple of South Carolina defensive standouts: Brad Johnson and Cam Smith are really good players. Smith might be a first-rounder. They’re playing him more nickel this year, and corner.
- On Arkansas’ cornerbacks: We have a lot of work to do. I think Nudie and Clark and Chavis… There’s still guys that need to get on the field, but need to practice better. Those three right now are ahead of the rest of them at this point.
- On the secondary depth: We don’t know what’s going on with Catalon or Slusher, but I told the coaches we need to worry about the guys we do have at the moment.
- On South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler: I like him. He plays like a guy who’s played before. Has a lot of poise. You can feel his confidence through the film. They believe in him. He runs the show well. For a guy in his first game, I thought he played really well.
- On the turnaround of South Carolina football: I think they’re a really good SEC football team. I respect the job they’ve done.
- On Dwight McGlothern: He’s a gamer. That’s who he is. We found that out. He seems to really enjoy it here. I think he’ll continue to get better and better. I know when we played LSU last year, he made some really good plays against us. I trust him. I’m happy he’s here. That was a big pick he had the other day.
- On AJ Green: The first time AJ Green carried the ball, that’s the best I’ve ever seen him run it. He used his 10.3 speed and ran some people over. That’s the first time I’ve seen that, practice or game.
- On being the hunted instead of the underdog: We always find a reason to play our brand of football. We like who we are. I don’t know how good we are, I don’t know how good Cincinnati is. But as long as we keep that chip, the disrespect chip, we’ll find a reason.
- On Max Fletcher’s debut and the battle with Reid Bauer: There’s obviously a battle there. If you ask Max, he’s probably tell you he didn’t punt as well as he hoped. I think he’ll get better. I never lived in Australia, so I don’t know what it’s like to come over here, but he was maybe a little nervous.
- On Dominique Johnson’s possible availability vs. South Carolina: I hope so. I don’t know. We’re going to put him out there this week, today, and see what he can do. I felt like we were experimenting with him some last week while thinking he wouldn’t play. We were trying to get him ready for maybe South Carolina. If he feels good about it, then he’ll play.
- On South Carolina’s offensive line: They have a lot of experience. Georgia State did a lot of things to them. They’ve got a good front five. A little bit different offense than what they did a year ago. I anticipate they’ll play really well against us.
- On left tackle Luke Jones’ first start: Luke, when he first got here, he wasn’t an urgent player. A little bit of, not slow motion, but not full speed. Thinking all the time. That’s gone completely away. I think he’s a good left tackle in this league. I was really happy with him. I think he had a good game.
- On the linebacker usage vs. Cincinnati: Chris Paul Jr. got about 17 snaps on defense and Jordan Crook got six snaps. We played everyone at linebacker exactly how we wanted to. Bumper Pool and Drew Sanders played a lot of plays, like 70 apiece.
- On the impact of an 11 a.m. kickoff: As a coach, you worry about everything. But 11 o’clock game, we practiced six times at 10:15. That won’t be the reason why we win or lose. But I will say, Georgia’s crowd last year was deafening and it was a problem for us, like hopefully ours will for South Carolina on Saturday.
- On his relationship with South Carolina football coach Shane Beamer: We talk. Shane lived in the same subdivision as I did at Georgia. We worked together in the same meetings for 14 hours a day, so we knew each other well. He has a wonderful family. He’s just a really good man, good coach. Energetic guy. Looking forward to seeing him.
- On the running back usage vs. Cincinnati: Dubinion looked good, didn’t he? Made a guy miss on the sideline. We’ve all seen that at practice. He can cut on a dime. Jimmy Smith wished he got him and Green more carries. I thought Dubinion was very productive in tight moments.
- On the special teams battle in Arkansas vs South Carolina game: They know exactly what we do because Beamer and Fountain worked right next to each other at Georgia, so we know a lot about what they were doing, too. Georgia State’s blocks weren’t really schematics, but missed blocks. We have to emphasize it this week. You better be ready for it because they have juice over there for special teams, so we have to be prepared and we will be.
- On wide receivers blocking downfield: We really have emphasized that at practice. We even have perimeter drills and things about blocking and straining. Both of them (Landers’ block on KJ’s TD run and Jackson’s block on Knox’s second TD) were big.
Watch Sam Pittman’s full interview here:
Arkansas Football Injury Report
Here’s the latest on various Arkansas football players dealing with injuries…
- S Jalen Catalon (undisclosed): TBA vs. South Carolina; left the Cincinnati game with an injury early in the third quarter, went to the locker room and returned to the sideline without his uniform and ice on his shoulder
- NB Myles Slusher (undisclosed): TBA vs. South Carolina; left the Cincinnati game with an injury late in the second quarter, had to be helped off the field and went straight to the locker room
- DT Isaiah Nichols (undisclosed): should be fine for this week; left the Cincinnati game with an injury and never returned, but remained in his uniform and was on the sideline
- DB Jayden Johnson (undisclosed): left the Cincinnati game with an injury midway through the third quarter, but returned to the field
- RB Dominique Johnson (ACL): hopeful vs. South Carolina; dressed out and went through pregame warmups, but did not play against Cincinnati; was always a long shot for Week 1, but could potentially return this week
- QB Kade Renfro (ACL): dressed out and went through pregame warmups, but did not play against Cincinnati; Pittman said last Wednesday that he had not yet been fully cleared for contact
- WR Jadon Haselwood (undisclosed): played against Cincinnati with no apparent issues despite missing practice time a week earlier and wearing a green non-contact jersey in practices leading up to the game
- LG Brady Latham (undisclosed): played against Cincinnati with no apparent issues despite missing practice time a week earlier
- OL Josh Street (ankle): played on special teams against Cincinnati despite missing practice leading up to the game
- OL Devon Manuel (undisclosed): dressed out and went through warmups, but did not play against Cincinnati after missing practice leading up to the game
- WR Jaedon Wilson (shoulder): dressed out and went through warmups, but did not play against Cincinnati after wearing a green non-contact jersey in practices leading up to the game
- OL Marcus Henderson (pectoral): did not dress out against Cincinnati
- DT Taurean Carter (knee): did not dress out against Cincinnati, expected to be out a while
Monday Practice Observations – South Carolina Week
Arkansas opened up about 15 minutes of Monday’s practice to the media. Here are a few takeaways from that viewing period…
- As usual, the Razorbacks practiced in “shells” Monday, meaning they were in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts.
- Only two players were in green non-contact jerseys: running back Dominique Johnson and offensive lineman Marcus Henderson.
- That said, there was some encouragement with Henderson. Unlike all fall camp and last week, Henderson was spotted going through individual drills with the offensive line.
- Speaking of Johnson, he seemed to go through drills a little quicker and smoother than last week. He may not quite be 100 percent yet, but he definitely appears closer than before.
- Safety Jayden Johnson got banged up at one point in the Cincinnati game, but eventually returned to the field. He didn’t seem to be hindered at all at practice. The same could be said about defensive tackle Isaiah Nichols, who was going through drills just fine after missing time Saturday.
- With the injuries to Myles Slusher and Jalen Catalon, Khari Johnson has moved from cornerback to safety.
- As the media walked off the practice field, the defense was spotted in a dime package with six defensive backs on the field. In addition to cornerbacks Dwight McGlothern and Hudson Clark, Jayden Johnson, Khari Johnson, Simeon Blair and Latavious Brini were on the field in that package.
Arkansas Football Depth Chart
The following depth chart was released to the media by the UA in its weekly game notes…
|QB||KJ Jefferson||Malik Hornsby|
|RB||Rocket Sanders||AJ Green|
|TE||Trey Knox||Nathan Bax -OR-||Hudson Henry|
|WR||Warren Thompson||Jaedon Wilson||Quincey McAdoo|
|WR||Jadon Haselwood||Bryce Stephens||Isaiah Sategna|
|WR||Matt Landers||Ketron Jackson Jr.||Sam Mbake|
|LT||Luke Jones||Andrew Chamblee|
|LG||Brady Latham||Jalen St. John|
|C||Ricky Stromberg||Patrick Kutas|
|RG||Beaux Limmer||E’Marion Harris|
|RT||Dalton Wagner||Ty’Kieast Crawford|
- There are no changes to the offensive depth chart, but it is worth noting that even though there is an “or” between Bax and Henry at the backup tight end spot, Bax got most – if not all – of those reps against Cincinnati.
- At wide receiver, Jackson is the only backup who got offensive snaps against Cincinnati. The fifth wide receiver Arkansas used was Hornsby.
- He’s not listed above, but freshman Rashod Dubinion is the third-team running back. He got some work against the Bearcats.
|DE||Zach Williams||Jordan Domineck|
|DT||Isaiah Nichols||Cam Ball|
|DT||Eric Gregory||Terry Hampton|
|DE||Jashaud Stewart||Landon Jackson|
|MLB||Drew Sanders||Chris Paul Jr.|
|WLB||Bumper Pool||Jordan Crook||Jackson Woodard|
|NB||Myles Slusher||Trent Gordon||Jacorrei Turner|
|CB||Hudson Clark||Malik Chavis||Khari Johnson|
|S||Jalen Catalon||Latavious Brini|
|S||Simeon Blair||Jayden Johnson|
|CB||Dwight McGlothern||LaDarrius Bishop|
- The only change is at cornerback, as McGlothern is listed as a starter instead of Bishop, who is now his backup. That reflects how the Razorbacks started against Cincinnati. Previously, McGlothern and Johnson were listed as co-backups behind Clark, with Chavis listed as a backup to Bishop.
- Just because they are listed on the depth chart, Catalon and Slusher are not certain to play. Their status, after getting hurt against Cincinnati, is still up in the air. If both are out, expect Brini to start for Catalon and Johnson to move to nickel and start for Slusher.
|P||Max Fletcher||Reid Bauer|
|LS||Eli Stein||John Oehrlein -OR-||Francisco Castro|
|KOR||AJ Green||Rashod Dubinion|
|PR||Bryce Stephens||Harper Cole|
- After listing Little and Bates with an “or” at kickoff specialist, Bates is now the sole player listed. He handled all of those duties against Cincinnati. Bates had previously been listed as a backup at kicker, too, but now there is no backup listed. He’s still likely the backup if something were to happen to Little.
- The “or” is also gone at punter, with Fletcher listed ahead of Bauer. Fletcher handled all of those duties against Cincinnati.
- There is still an “or” between his two backups, but Stein is now listed as the starting long snapper after handling those duties against Cincinnati.
How to Watch Arkansas vs South Carolina
Date: Saturday, Sept. 10
Location: Reynolds Razorback Stadium (Fayetteville, Ark.)
Kickoff Time and TV Schedule: 11 a.m. CT (ESPN)
Announcers: Bob Wischusen (play-by-play), Dan Orlovsky (analyst), Kris Budden (sideline reporter)
Arkansas’ Rankings: *No. 19 (AP) | *No. 23 (Coaches) | *No. 14 (SP+) | No. 26 (FPI)
*Rankings from the preseason because AP and Coaches Poll, as well as SP+, won’t update until Tuesday
ESPN FPI: Arkansas has a 73.4% chance to win (up 1.2 percentage points from preseason projection)
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